If you market it, they will come. The way things are packaged matter to consumers. In fact, packaging is the third largest industry in the United States. Every other industry depends, at least in some ways, on how their products are presented to people. Of course, packaging can be incredibly misleading. The goal is always to make the sale.
When the goal of your business evolves into helping improve the lives of others, how might that be packaged? Moreso, how might it look in action? Legions of people make claims to want to help better the lives of others, then flinch, shrinking away from the grotesqueries so often hidden by the human need for shiny facades.
Los Angeles is one of the most glamorous cities in the world. Or, at least, it tries to be. Besides the celebrities and socialites, millionaires and billionaires from around the world flock to Los Angeles. Private jets use a network of more than 5,000 airports in the United States, and Los Angeles is one of the top destinations.
Yet despite its reputation as a superficial playground for the 1%, there’s a lot more to Los Angeles than the rich and the famous. Yet the regular folks are often forgotten about beneath the stampede of paparazzi and pulpy gossip stories. This can make Los Angeles a very lonely place. It’s part of a social tendency to focus on human packaging. Where the American family spends an average of $1,700 on clothes every year, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who might look up from their iPhone to say “good morning!” to a passerby. As wonderful a place as Los Angeles is, you know the truth is that our city of angels can be the epicenter of lonely.
Chuck McCarthy moved to Los Angeles more than a decade ago in hopes of becoming an actor. An archetypal story, fraught with failure, doubt, and a heaping platter of introspection. Not all hopeful actors can end up being the next Jeff Goldblum. And like many would-be actors in Los Angeles, McCarthy looked to the gig economy to make ends meet while pursuing his dream.
“I was thinking about becoming a dog walker. But I’ve never had a dog in the city, so I’ve never had to pick up dog poop. I was also seeing a lot of personal trainer ads. And so I kind of said to my girlfriend, ‘Maybe I’ll just become a people walker,'” said McCarthy, in an interview.
As he ruminated this idea, he kept coming up with reasons that this was a good idea. His mother had had a stroke and was fearful of walking alone, a concern that countless others shared. People didn’t like walking alone at night, another popular concern. Others wanted to exercise, but not with the intensity and expense of L.A. personal trainers. With more reasons stacking up, he launched The People Walker, made a Facebook page and tacked flyers around L.A. What a lot of people came for was companionship.
What he didn’t expect was for the idea to become extremely popular. He started walking people two years ago, providing social companionship that is increasingly difficult to come by. While the idea of walking people as if they were dogs may seem strange, he says the idea isn’t anything new. McCarthy compares it to the connection people have with their hair stylist, bartender, or therapist.
First impressions happen so quickly, with most people evaluating and deciding the trustworthiness of strangers in one-tenth of a second. What started as McCarthy walking with people while wearing a white t-shirt with a crude marker drawing displaying his brand The People Walker, is now large enough that he has a roster of 35 fellow walkers. It’s swiftly growing with requests for the same service in other cities around the country.
The website for the service allows people to choose routes, times, and walking partners. Plus, it’s much more affordable than a personal trainer at $7 per mile. There’s a process for people who want to be walkers to register and undergo a screening process, complete with a background check and walking interview, before being approved as official People Walkers.
You can keep tabs with the operation on their Facebook page, too. They’re currently working on an app that will provide the ability for scalable city expansion across the United States. We’re looking forward to seeing how far these strides will take in the fight against loneliness and getting a decent walk in.
“I try to listen more than I talk,” McCarthy says about the walks themselves.
Providing an interpersonal way to be heard is paramount to defeating the lonely feeling of having so much bouncing around inside that, finally, some of it gets to escape to willing and open ears.
The road goes ever on, let’s walk it together.
Tags: Chuck McCarthy, LA Guestlist, LA People Walker, Los Angeles, The People Walker
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